#17 Duke Muscles Past #25 Ohio State

There have been a lot of changes to both Duke and Ohio State in the exactly one year since they met in Columbus, a game the Buckeyes won 71-66. The Blue Devils have a new coach in John Scheyer, who was a bench coach under Coach K and both teams went through heavy roster turnover as only one player on each team who logged minutes in that game played tonight. That was then and this is now and tonight’s game was played in Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke campus and in Ohio State’s first true road game, the new look 17th ranked Blue Devils defeated the visiting 25th ranked Buckeyes 81-72 in what will be the last year of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Ohio State, who fell to 5-2 on the year, was led by Zed Key’s career high 21 points, 18 in the second half, to go along with 8 rebounds, out-shot the Blue Devils 47% to 45%, but a 26-17 Duke advantage at the stripe was a big difference in the ballgame. The Buckeyes outscored the Blue Devils 14-8 on 2nd chance points and although Duke led the nation coming into the game in offensive rebounding, Ohio State grabbed 12 to Duke’s 13. The Buckeyes scored 19 points off 13 Duke turnovers while allowing Duke to score 20 off of 16 turnovers of their own. In addition to Key’s big night, Sean McNeil added 14 points, Justice Sueing scored 12 and Bruce Thornton chipped in 11.

It was a fast start for Ohio State, scoring the first 5 of the game, all from Sean McNeil, and 8 of the first 10. A 5-0 Duke run cut the lead to 1 but a Duke turnover created a transition dunk for Brice Sensabaugh and the Buckeyes led by 4. Another Duke bucket and a Buckeye turnover in the frontcourt sent the game to the first media break with Ohio State leading 10-9, but at the 16:52 mark Justice Sueing, who scored 3 early points, picked up a questionable 2nd foul and had to head to the bench. Out of the timeout, Duke grabbed their first lead, scoring at the rim, but a Zed Key jumper at the free throw line fell, putting Ohio State back ahead. The Blue Devils would answer with a 4-0 run, stopped by a Key offensive rebound and jump hook score and a Duke turnover, their 6th of the game created a Bruce Thornton run out and score and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led 16-15. The Blue Devils regained the lead out of the timeout, hitting a pair of freebies, but Ohio State answered. After Thornton hit a runner in the lane, the Buckeye D forced another Duke turnover and after a scramble in the backcourt, Thornton took it all the way to the rim and scored to put the Buckeyes up 3. A Buckeye turnover led to a Duke break and it turned into an and one which they converted to tie it. Ice Likekele put Ohio State back ahead scoring off the bounce right of the rim and at the under 8, Ohio State led 22-20. Two more Duke free throws deadlocked the game once again with 6:31 to play in the first 20 minutes and after an offensive foul by Key, Duke grabbed a lead, drilling a triple from the top. Likekele split a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 2, but Duke got a man free under the rim for an easy deuce forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Duke enjoying a four point lead with 4:35 to play in the first half. Duke increased the lead after a Buckeye miss, but a Sensabaugh runner ended the mini run and at the final media timeout, Duke led Ohio State 29-25. Duke went on a 5-0 run, the final three off a Buckeye turnover to go ahead by 9 but a pair of Felix Okpara free throws stopped the run and cut the lead to 7. Duke went back up 9, when the Blue Devils got away with an over the back offensive rebound, but Thornton drilled a jumper to answer. Duke came right back and converted an and one to go ahead by 10 and that would be the score as the teams hit the locker room with Duke finishing the half on a 19-7 run to grab a 39-29 lead. Both teams shot it at a 44% clip and the Blue Devils held just a 2 rebound advantage. Duke’s lead was fueled in large part due to a 18-9 advantage in points off turnovers as Ohio State turned it over 10 times, while Duke turned it over 7 times, but none during the critical stretch late in the half. Bruce Thornton led Ohio State with 8 first half points, while Duke was led by Kyle Filipowski’s 9. 

Duke extended the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. After the Buckeyes struck first with a Likekele bucket, four straight Duke points put the Blue Devils up 12. A Key tip in cut into the lead, but Duke answered with two of their own. A Duke player technical sent McNeil to the stripe and he buried both, but another Duke bucket sent the teams to the benches at the under 16 media timeout with Duke leading 47-35. A free throw out of the timeout, completed an old fashioned three point play and Duke was up 13 with just under 16 to go. Buckets by Key and McNeil trimmed the lead to 9, but a pair of Duke freebies stopped the mini Buckeye run and increased the lead back to 11. A Thornton triple from the right point after a Duke turnover, cut the lead to 8, and after a Duke bucket, Key scored at the rim with just under 13 to play. Another Key bucket from the right block as he was fouled sent the game to the under 12 media timeout with Ohio State creeping closer, now trailing just 52-46. Key nailed the freebie out of the timeout and the Buckeyes were within 5. After two Duke free throws, the Buckeyes blew a layup but Duke did not and the lead grew back to 9. Two Sueing free throws cut back into the lead but a Duke triple answered. Sueing converted an old-fashioned three point play and following a Duke turnover, some great interior passing was on display as Sueing found Key for two to cut the lead back to 5 and Duke took a timeout with 9:19 to play and Duke clinging to a 59-54 lead. Out of the timeout, Duke drilled a triple from the left corner and the crowd was back into it. A pair of Key free throws cut into the lead but a pair on the other end answered and with 7:55 to go, Duke led 64-56. A pair of free throws each way, the two by Ohio State off the fingers of Key and the Duke lead held at 8. McNeil hit a runner followed by a Duke bucket and answered with a Sueing deuce and Ohio State took a timeout, trailing by 6 with 6:46 left in the game. A pair of Key free throws was followed by a Duke bucket as Ohio State just could not get stops. McNeil drilled a triple from the left wing to trim the lead to 5, but a Duke score at the rim sent the teams to the benches for the final media break with Duke leading 74-67 and just 2:37 to go. A free throw dropped after the break to complete an old fashioned three point play, but Ohio State answered with a Sueing bucket off the bounce. Two more Duke freebies upped the lead to 8 and the game was all but over. Another Duke free throw increased the lead to 9 and on the other end, Gayle split a pair to cut it to 8 and Ohio State had to play the foul game as both Justice Sueing and Brice Sensabaugh fouled out within a minute of each other. Duke hit a pair of free throws before Gayle drove to the rim for two and Ohio State took timeout with just 26 seconds on the game clock. The third Buckeye of the night fouled out as Ice Likekele took a seat and it was clear that the foul disparity favored the home team as it always does in that building. Duke split a pair of free throws to end the scoring in the Duke win. 

It will be a learning experience for this young group of Buckeyes.  In what is probably the toughest environment in the country, Ohio State competed to the end but it just wasn’t their night, digging a deficit as large as 13 before cutting it to five late but could never get the stop they needed. They will ultimately be better for a game like tonight and better days will be ahead. They will need to learn to play a little stronger with the basketball and play with a little more poise in stretches especially on the road. Defensively they just got caught out of position at times and committed way too many fouls. You always know when you go to Cameron, everything will be against you, sometimes even officials, but mentally you have to be tougher and at times, the Buckeyes let that get to them a little. Ultimately, this game should give them confidence that if they play their game, they can compete and win any game and in any environment. Tonight, unfortunately it just wasn’t in the cards. 

The Buckeyes take the floor again on Saturday, back home hosting St, Francis (PA) at Noon and airing on BTN. 

-Jason Harris

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